Police probe of fisherman killing incomplete

-Benschop, businessmen donate to family

One week after a policeman shot and killed a Riverview, Ruimveldt fisherman, the Guyana Police Force is yet to complete an investigation to determine whether the rank used excessive force.

Meanwhile, on Friday last the Mark Benschop Foundation in association with two city businessmen donated a quantity of foodstuff and clothing to the man’s widow and four children.    
The Mark Benschop (right) Foundation in association with businessmen Peter Ramsaroop (left) and Ron Morrison (second from right) putting smiles on the faces of Michelle Russel and her four children whose father police killed last week.Last week Monday police killed Felix Da Silva during a raid on his Riverview home after a businessman in the area had alleged that the 27-year-old and others broke into his shop and stole a quantity of items. The police later alleged that Da Silva had attacked the policeman who had gone to his house to arrest him, resulting in him being killed. 

On Friday, the Mark Benschop Foundation and businessmen, Ron Morrison, proprietor of the local Hanes Franchise and Peter Ramsaroop of Roop Group donated a quantity of books, clothing, toys and sports gear to Da Silva’s wife, Michelle Russel. In addition, Ramsaroop promised to open accounts starting with $5,000 for each of the four children. Russell also collected a quantity of baby foods, pampers and other items for her four-month-old son. 

Speaking to Stabroek News on Friday Benschop lauded the contributions of Morrison and Ramsaroop, saying that the businessmen could always be counted on to render assistance to the less fortunate.

Felix Da SilvaHe was particularly grateful to Morrison, owner of the Hanes franchise on Robb Street for his contribution, noting that the businessman has always partnered with him in similar ventures.

Morrison told Stabroek News he was happy to donate to the family whom he said was in desperate need following the tragedy. “One can imagine their circumstances at this time and it is one thing to notice suffering but it is another to step in and stop it,” Morrison said. He pledged to continue supporting the family and was in high praise for Benschop’s initiative in reaching out to the family.

Speaking directly to the killing of Da Silva, Benschop said in any democratic society “these things ought not to go unchecked”. “Justice must prevail because at the end of day we must all be concerned about the welfare of children Da Silva has left behind,” Benschop said.

In addition, he observed that the conditions under which the family lived were deplorable. “We hope that other concerned citizens in the business sector and those in authority would do something to assist this family in the burial and other areas, as well as ensuring justice prevails,” Benschop asserted.

He said so far his organization has taken the family to Sandy’s Funeral Home where he was able to secure a sizeable discount from management for funeral expenses.

Investigation
On the investigation into the killing, relatives last week made a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority. Chairman of the body, retired Chancellor of the Judiciary, Cecil Kennard had told this newspaper that he was ready to investigate the matter. Noting that not much has been done on the police front with regard the investigation, Benschop said as far as he was aware the policeman who pulled the trigger was still on duty. “In no circumstance should a policeman having done such an act still be on frontline duty. Authorities should look into this,” Benschop demanded.

Benschop lamented that Da Silva was accused of committing a petty crime but instead of the police conducting their own investigation they took along with them the accuser. “The police should do their job in a professional manner, not be judge, juror and executioner,”

Meanwhile, minutes after Benschop concluded his presentation to the family on Friday a policeman visited Russel at her home inviting her to Eve Leary to give a statement. Russel declined the invitation, arguing that she had already given a statement. She said the police were trying to intimidate her.  
Benschop told Stabroek News that his foundation was prepared to do whatever it could legally to ensure that the family gets justice, even if it is hiring a lawyer.

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